Louis Jones Reacts to Brand Safety Week 2022

To read the full BSI recap of Brand Safety Week 2022, click here.

Brand Safety Week! Let that sink in a moment. As an industry, we have come together over the last several years to focus on brand safety as a core dimension for connecting brands to consumers in ways that are authentic, safe/suitable, truthful, sustainable, and representative. With all of these areas of improvement, we see brand safety topics and safeguard solutions expanding...so much so, that we need a week to discuss them! What progress!

Brand Safety Week 2022 highlighted the need for deeper discussions around these issues across the ecosystem. While there are still many issues to fix and/or refine – and add to the list – we are proud to say the industry is energized around the broadening scope of brand safety. Good news for brands and good news for consumers (people).

DEI gets its own stage

Brand Safety Week launched a DEI Summit this year, creating a distinct forum for the topic of DEI which, over decades, has proved itself to be an elusive topic for most. On an afternoon in a full room in NeueHouse, several panels discussed challenges and opportunities for brands, from removing barriers like an inordinately long and biased exclusion list to fielding representative teams within your organization to creating work that speaks to the diversity of your target audiences.

Other panels emphasized the importance of defining goals, breaking down barriers, and re-engineering processes to achieve those goals both inside and outside of the organization for better business results. The final panel of the day gave a clear example of how a brand improved its business by championing diverse communities in their communications – a true win-win scenario.

Suitability is a balancing act

Suitability continues to be the area of exploration for most brands – understanding how company or brand values are synched up with content choices across an array of outlets. From managing misinformation/disinformation to algorithmic bias in our programmatic channels, panelists spoke words of caution and encouraged people to do the “hard work” on deciding what content is more (or less) appropriate for them.

Tank Sinatra, a creator across several social media platforms, shared his perspective on how he approaches the content decisions he makes, particularly when hired by brands. Tank made it clear that he understands the end goal – and being respectful of both brands and people – and the social discourse is an important balance he strives to get right.

Kid Safe and Parents Approved

Both TikTok and Meta shared the work they are doing to protect kids and teens – while creating tools to keep parents involved in their explorations on the web in a way that is collaborative and sensitive to their explorations of their worlds. Both have developmental experts helping to guide platform decisions on “gating” content at certain ages versus not, and default settings that protect kids and teens from others on the open web. All in all, really useful strategies for kid safety, and heartwarming to see and understand the focus on kids with respect to brand safety. Bravo.

Raising Our Game as an Industry

Understanding that brand safety is here to stay, a number of panels tried to bring focus to burgeoning issues that require continued focus to reach a more mature and healthy state of brand safety for the industry. Panels addressed the growing frustration with CTV/streaming and better controls for individual programs/episodes (not just at the app level), particularly as TV (or video) on the web is not all “professionally” produced, leading to potential risks. A similar discussion ensued around the growth of audio, encompassing not only the controls and suitability concerns, but measurement challenges in the space as well.

There were interesting discussions around the growth of privacy and data legislation and the readiness for marketers and agencies to manage against the growing set of compliance issues. Another discussion challenged attendees on the potential overuse of pre-bid tactics which might be masking opportunity in the marketplace. We addressed livestream content, its risk, and its growing importance as a consumer dynamic in Web 3.0. The challenges for brand safety continue to stack up. Finally, we had a good look at how one marketer has organized itself to be brand safety effective across its enterprise – a great example for the industry and a model for others to aspire to.

It was a good week. It was thoughtful. We had the opportunity to take a step back from all the discussion about how to control and moderate, and actually had space to discuss a number of the issues surrounding how to achieve a better brand safe ecosystem. We could both look back – and look forward. The challenges will persist. Brand Safety Week 2022 confirmed we are all committed to a sustainable and safe future.

Louis Jones
CMO, Brand Safety Institute